Monthly Archives: September 2012

The Conservative Mind

The New York Times has the David Brooks column The Conservative Mind.

… there was another sort of conservative, who would be less familiar now. This was the traditional conservative, intellectual heir to Edmund Burke, Russell Kirk, Clinton Rossiter and Catholic social teaching. This sort of conservative didn’t see society as a battleground between government and the private sector. Instead, the traditionalist wanted to preserve a society that functioned as a harmonious ecosystem, in which the different layers were nestled upon each other: individual, family, company, neighborhood, religion, city government and national government.

Who could argue with the definition of a political philosophy like that?  If you want to label that a style of conservatism, then it is one to which I could subscribe.

Later on, he comments,

The two conservative tendencies lived in tension. But together they embodied a truth that was put into words by the child psychologist John Bowlby, that life is best organized as a series of daring ventures from a secure base.

That really describes something that I believe.  I get frustrated with the really radical left that wants to throw everything out and start again from scratch.  No system is perfect, but my hope is that a system can be improved to become nearer to perfection.  If you have something that has worked pretty well for hundreds of years, you are taking a mighty big risk to throw the whole thing out and think you can replace it with something better.  I don’t say for sure that it can’t be done, but at this point I don’t think it is worth the risk.  At some point in the future things might get so bad that it does become worth the risk.  Let us hope that the people currently driving it in the race to the bottom for the middle-class some how wake up and realize to what their drive will ultimately lead.

Thanks to RogerS for the link that lead to my initial reading of the article.  And thanks to RichardH for urging me to get off my duff and post this.

Wake the F**K Up (NSFW – Not Suitable For Work)

I wish there were a G rated version of this, but it is too good to pass up if you are willing to put up with the language.

From there is this partial transcript:

Sorry my friends but there’s no time to snore

An out-of-touch millionaire has just declared war

On schools, the environment, unions, fair pay

We’re all on our own if Romney has his way…

This is all sponsored by the Jewish Council for Education and Research.

Thanks to JimG for bringing this video to my attention.

One of the things that I frequently hear is that “I work so hard, that I just don’t have the time.” Also, “I have to work two jobs to keep my head above water, so I don’t have the time.”

I understand that problem, and I have no immediate solution for the people suffering this problem. I know it doesn’t help to notice that making people work this hard to make ends meet is a great way to keep them from being politically active and demanding their rights. If you look down the road to where this spiral is taking us, you might see that when it gets so bad that people have nothing else to lose, then they will find time to get active. Right now, people think they might be able to save something of the American dream, and don’t want to risk getting off the treadmill to protest.

Romney to teacher “I didn’t ask you a question”

The Daily Kos has the article, Romney to teacher “I didn’t ask you a question”.

The Daily Kos article provided the transcript:

When I was asked to speak with Mitt Romney it seemed like a very important thing to me, and I wanted to put a lot of careful thought into what I would say. So, I went to the round table discussion very optimistic and interested in hearing what he had to say.

When he sat down, one of the first questions he asked was, he said “I understand there is a teacher here today, which one of you is a teacher?”

So, I raised my hand, thinking that’s a good thing, he’s interested in education, but it wasn’t a good thing. I felt like his view was a little old-fashioned and I was surprised by it. He went on to kind of lecture me about schools and how bad they are. He talked bad about the teacher’s union. He was talking about the importance of private schools and voucher systems.

At one point, I said to him, “I have an answer for that.” And he said, “I didn’t ask you a question.”

Perhaps the lack of listening skills shown here explains why Mitt Romney thinks jet airplanes should have roll down windows. I’ll provide a link to the roll down windows brouhaha when and if I can find a video of him making these remarks. Until then, I don’t really know if he was serious or if he was joking.

Scott Brown Needs to Read More Broadly

A local newspaper is quoting Scott Brown:

Brown insisted the Native American issue is not critical to his reelection strategy.

“No, no, no, but it’s certainly an issue,” he said. “The ad that we’ve run is a fair ad. It’s accurate. It’s reflective of what you all have said for months now, that she needs to come straight . . . it goes to her character.”

So it may be true as shown in the Brown ads that the media in the Boston area fell for his original tactic, hook, line, and sinker, but as the quotes below show, some in that media pool came clean themselves and started to report more deeply about the issue. Rather than just be stenographers for the politicians, writing down and repeating what they said, some in the local media started to do their own independent research into the story.  I guess Scott Brown stopped listening after he had heard confirmation of what he said by seeing his own words echoed in the local media.  Nice trick

Scott Brown: Media, you reported these stories yourself.
Media: We were only reporting what you said.

In a previous post, Warren’s extended family split about heritage, I link to an article that said:

As a teenager, Warren’s grandmother, Bethanie “Hannie” Crawford, drove a horse-drawn wagon in 1888 from her native Missouri to the Indian territory that would eventually become Oklahoma, drawn by the prospect of land and opportunity. Several of her then four siblings came with her and several more would be born in the Cherokee Nation, Indian Territory, in the following years, according to the US Census of 1900. The Crawford sisters married the Reed brothers on the same June day in 1893, according to their marriage records. Laura and Everett had one son, Charles Reed, who was born in 1906, the year before Oklahoma became a state. He fathered one daughter, Ina Mapes.

Both the Reeds and the Crawfords are identified as “white” on federal Census forms in the early 20th century that rely upon self-identification. While that may have been a simple statement of fact, they may also have been trying to obscure their ethnicity. At the time, the federal government was attempting to break up reservations by granting land allotments to individual Native Americans, pressing them to assimilate into white society and leave their tribal ways behind. The goal, as one officer bluntly put it, was to “kill the Indian and save the man.” Those who could pass for white — or convince the census taker that they were — sometimes did.

“If someone was not white, they were a little bit less of a citizen,” said Matt Reed, the curator of the American Indian Collections at the Oklahoma Historical Society in Oklahoma City, whose mother was a Pawnee Indian. “If you had darker skin, you were a lesser human. So, if your skin was light enough to pass as not being Indian, then you just passed as white and your life was a lot better off. A lot more people did that than you might think.”
Robert C. Boraker, a retired journalist and amateur genealogist who said he is Warren’s fourth cousin — their great-great-grandfathers were brothers — said his father often told him that his grandmother, a Crawford, was one-eighth Indian. “It was Cherokee blood,” said Boraker, who lives in St. Albans, England, and publishes a family newsletter that includes the Crawford line. “There was no documentation, but it was what we knew, what we were told.”

Warren’s brother David, eight years her senior, calls the public controversy over the subject “a bunch of baloney.” He remembers relatives cautioning him when he played cowboys and Indians as a child. “My aunts said, ‘Be careful shooting the Indians because some of them are your relatives.’ ” But most shied away from the subject of the family’s heritage, Herring added, because “it wasn’t something you were proud of.”
At the Northwest Classen High School in Oklahoma City that Warren attended, many students had been told stories about their Native American relatives just as Warren said she had . Garrick Bailey, professor of anthropology at the University of Tulsa, who attended school in Oklahoma City in the 1950s, estimates that as many as 50 percent of the students at Classen possibly had Native American blood, based on an informal census taken at his own school.

Bob Hammack was one of them. A member of the class of 1966 along with Warren, Hammack said he is one-16th Cherokee and his wife is one-16th Apache.

His Cherokee grandmother never enrolled, he said, “because she and others were afraid if they gave their name they would be shot.”


A Candidate Who Cares About Your Family

Scott Brown must realize that Elizabeth Warren is far more qualified to be a US Senator than he is. That must be why he keeps trying to distract us with non-issues.

Still, if Elizabeth Warren has to keep assuring us that she knows what is important in this campaign, she can do a good job of it, as shown in the video below.

Elizabeth Warren sets the record straight about her family’s Native American heritage.

Elizabeth Warren may have had her struggles growing up, but she seems to have overcome them nicely. Scott Brown, according to his own biography, suffered with an abusive family. Perhaps that is why he is so suspicious of any authority figures. He is so unable to imagine a nurturing family, that he doesn’t see the good a family, or a community, or a government can do. Or maybe his issue is that he never grew up in a family where he felt he could trust what adults told him. Maybe that is why he cannot believe that when Elizabeth Warren’s parents told her about the family history, she didn’t ask for proof.

I know two cases don’t make a scientific study, but I have seen another case of an adult male having suffered an abusive father. This other adult male also seems to have the same attitudes as Scott Brown about people banding together in their government to accomplish something for the good of society. They just seem so suspicious that anybody would want to do something good for anybody else.

I feel sorry for Scott Brown having to suffer his affliction, but that doesn’t mean we have to allow him to foist his problems on us by his insisting on government policies that punish us. That won’t help him, and it surely won’t help us.

These Powerful Stories Of Americans Telling Mitt Romney, ‘We’re Voters, Not Victims,’ Will Move You

MoveOn has the article These Powerful Stories Of Americans Telling Mitt Romney, ‘We’re Voters, Not Victims,’ Will Move You.

Check out these brave people who’ve responded to Mitt Romney’s comment that 47% of Americans think of themselves as “victims” and will never “take responsibility for their lives.” Then go ahead and vote for your favorite response by clicking on the “like” button beneath each video!

There are already too many video clips for me to replicate them all here. Perhaps the following one best exemplifies what we would lose as a country if we just write off the people who are not paying income tax.

As Elizabeth Warren likes to point out, this country became the great country it is by investing in its people, especially its children. If we stop that investment, then we will lose out on the people who would go on to make great contributions to the country after we made the investment.

As capitalists, Republicans should understand the theory of investment. Are they just pretending that they don’t know what an investment is anymore? Or have they gotten so used to getting ahead by cheating others that they don’t think they need to invest anymore? There might be some other possibilities as to why so many of them are blind to what keeps a great country great.

Senatorial Debate Between Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown

This is the first debate between Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown. It was broadcast by WBZ-TV from Boston on September 20, 2012.

I wonder how many people know that the national organization of the Chamber of Commerce has been rabidly right wing during the Obama administration. They say things that are clearly not correct about how the economy works. Local Chamber’s of Commerce are divorcing themselves from the national organization because of what the national organization is doing.

In the current environment, taxing the wealthy is not taxing the job creators. The wealthy already have so much money they can’t even find productive things to invest in. So they squirrel away a good part of their money in tricky financial instruments to see if they can make a profit by tricking somebody else into taking a loss. If there were enough customers to demand more than the current factories could produce, then the wealthy might become job creators again. If we took away the advantages that we have enacted for creating jobs in other countries, they might even create some of those jobs in this country.

Until such time as the economy can produce enough employment to get private investors to create jobs, the only way that we can accomplish this is for the federal government to tax away some of that ill invested money and put it to more productive, job creating uses. When the private investors see these employed people spending money and creating demand for goods and services, only then will private investment start carrying the load for creating jobs.

When the private sector starts to do its job, the accepted economic theory is that the government should back away somewhat so the economy can stay balanced and not become overheated. When the government reduces its spending and the tax revenues increase, the budget will come into surplus, if the Republicans don’t insist on giving that surplus away and leaving the government in debt.

The last time we had a surplus under the Clinton administration and the beginning of the Bush administration, the Republicans were horrified that we might pay down the debt. They thought the wealthy could spend that money better than the government paying down the debt. They didn’t just make temporary adjustments that fit the situation at the time, they made the adjustments permanent so that the next downturn would be a disaster. They got their wish, and are now trying to blame it on Obama even though they won’t let him undo their original mistake.

I wish Elizabeth Warren could figure out how to fit the above explanation into a 90 second slot in a debate. It would be better than letting Scott Brown keep repeating his misunderstanding of how the economy works.

By the way, there is a perfectly logical reply to why Elizabeth Warren does not choose to pay more taxes than the law requires if she believes the wealthy should pay more in taxes. “I should pay more taxes so you Republicans can give it away to some other wealthy person? I wasn’t born yesterday. When the rules are made more fair for all, then I will be happy to pay more taxes, and see those taxes help the people who deserve it. Unlike you, I don’t think more money needs to go to people who can’t figure out what to do with all the money they have. Why aren’t they creating jobs already with all the money they have? What kind of foolish capitalistic theory would have people invest in more jobs, when there aren’t enough customers to buy what the employed are already able to produce? It’s time you stop listening to the self interested Chamber of Commerce, and start thinking for yourself.”

What makes Scott Brown think the $5 billion subsidy to the oil companies is lowering the price of gasoline at the pump? With $135 billion in profits the oil companies have plenty of room to lower the prices if they want to. Take away the $5 billion subsidy and they will only raise the prices if market forces let them do it. Otherwise that money would come out of the pockets of the management and the investors. Once again, Scott Brown shows that he knows nothing about capitalism.

If it is so important to lower the cost of gasoline at the pump, why not use the $5 billion subsidy to give vouchers to the customers to buy gas, and let the oil companies compete for the money? If they can manage to get that business, then the oil companies will come out even. If not, then the customer comes out ahead. Why do Republicans never think of those solutions unless it means more money to the big guys?

Elizabeth Warren needs to train herself to think (and to say to her opponent), let’s examine what you are saying to see if it makes any sense. If it does, then I will agree with you. If it doesn’t, then you should change your mind. (He won’t change his mind, but people in the listening audience might.) This should be her entry point to refute almost every argument that Scott Brown makes, because so few of his arguments make sense when you look at all the factors involved.

Boston Mayor Tom Menino endorses Elizabeth Warren for US Senate

Mayor Tome Menino made a surprisiingly good speech in announcing his endoresement of Elizabeth Warren.

Unlike Ray Flynn, Mayor Menino seems to have spent some time understanding where the two candidates stand on issues before making a decision.

Ray Flynn admitted in The Boston Globe article that he has no knowledge of how Scott Brown has actually voted and he knows nothing about Elizabeth? Warren.

Here is The Boston Globe article Former mayor Ray Flynn adds his voice to Senate race.

Flynn said he came to his conclusions about Brown based on “what I knew about his personal life growing up.”

“It’s really a nonpolitical message about the man, rather than it is about politics or ideology,” he said. “I didn’t go through his congressional record or roll call. I don’t have time for that. People don’t have time for that. I am interested if the guy is honest, that he has personal integrity.”

As Elizabeth Warren has pointed out, it is not enough to know how someone grew up. One also has to know what lessons they learned from that experience. She learned about how important community investment was to her success, and she wants other people to have the same chances as she did. The Republicans, including Scott Brown, have learned, “I’ve got mine, the rest of you are on your own.”

Fact Check: In Travelers Case, Warren Fights for Victims’ Compensation

The trail ends in The Boston Globe article Elizabeth Warren was key in asbestos case, but it started in the article Brown sharpens attacks as Warren woos voters. You can also read  Fact Check: In Travelers Case, Warren Fights for Victims’ Compensation.

The starting article describes the most recent attempt by Scott Brown to turn Elizabeth Warren’s good deeds into something bad.

In the press conference at his headquarters, Brown sought to keep the focus on Warren’s role in the asbestos lawsuit. He stood before a bank of television cameras and held up papers that showed the $212,000 Travelers Insurance paid Warren for her work in the case.

Brown said Warren’s advocacy on behalf of the insurance giant flies in the face of her reputation for sticking up for “little guys.”

As the Globe reported in May, Warren did represent Travelers in the 2009 asbestos case, but at the time, the company was seeking to unlock a $500 million settlement ­account for victims, a step many victims supported. After Warren’s work on the case had ended, however, Travelers won a separate court ruling that ­allowed the company to avoid paying out the settlement. That ruling is under appeal.

“Elizabeth Warren got involved to protect the settlement,” against a challenge from another insurance company, said David J. McMorris, a lawyer at Thornton & Naumes in Boston, who represented victims in the case.

McMorris and several officials from an asbestos workers’ union showed up outside Brown’s headquarters to ­defend Warren’s role in the lawsuit.

“It should be very, very clear the victims would have no chance to get paid by ­Travelers were it not for the work of Elizabeth Warren,” McMorris told reporters. “She’s been with the victims then, and she’s with the victims now.”

If you follow the link at the beginning of this blog post or the same link in the excerpt above from The Boston Globe article, you will find a more complete description (4 web pages) of the Travelers case.

Warren says she was fighting for an arcane but important principle in taking on the case: the constitutionality of allowing bankrupt companies facing a flood of lawsuits to form what are known as trusts. The trusts are large bank accounts that set aside money for current and future victims.

Warren says that the trusts provide a fair system to distribute the money – rather than first come, first served. But companies only will agree to them if they receive protection from future lawsuits.

“The issue I was focused on like a laser was the constitutionality of preserving the trust, because the trust is a critical tool for making sure that people who’ve been hurt have a fair shot at compensation,’’ she said. “Without it, millions of people who’ve already been injured will get nothing, and millions more in the future will get nothing.’’

All I know about this case is what I have read in The Boston Globe, so it is really going out on a limb to draw any conclusions.  Even though there are more nuances than the conclusion I am about to draw,  in essence, I still believe the following conclusion to be a good one.

The fact that an experienced, expert witness and attorney could be tricked by the meanderings of our legal system is further proof of Elizabeth Warren’s claim that the system is rigged against the little guy in favor of the big guy.  If she could be fooled, what chance do you and I have when going up against the armies of lawyers of the big corporations?

This is exactly why it is important to send Elizabeth Warren to the Senate.  She wants to try her best to level the playing field.  Her invention, The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, is already working and making some headway in this direction.

The “nasty” corporations that Scott Brown thinks that Warren tried to help do their cheating are exactly the ones he does not want to tax because they are “job creators.”  Are you a hypocrite, when you try to call someone else, who is sincerely trying to help the victims, a hypocrite?  Even before that accusation Scott Brown was the true hypocrite.  We must not reward people like Scott Brown by reelecting them as Senators.

It might also be noted that the second article contains the quote:

Warren is considered a leading authority on bankruptcy, and the Travelers case was among a very few that reach the heights of the Supreme Court. She began writing and lecturing about bankruptcy trusts in the 1980s. The trust issue was also addressed in a 1,100-page congressional report on bankruptcy law, drafted in 1995 by Warren, the primary adviser for the National Bankruptcy Review Commission. An attorney who worked with Warren on that commission was heading Travelers’ legal team and called her when the issue boiled up to the highest court.

I am not sure that the people of Massachusetts fully appreciate the high regard that the professionals hold for Elizabeth Warren.  Do any knowledgeable and professional people hold Scott Brown in such high regard?

If the people of Massachusetts only knew what I do about Elizabeth Warren, they would all vote for her in an instant.

I put that previous sentence in only because I know how much it irks a particular letter writer who complained about this attitude by the “liberals” of Massachusetts.